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How the Scientology Cult Uses Sounds to Manipulate People

Kate Bornstein interviewed on L. Ron Hubbard: "He made screaming at people a canonical order."

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June 14, 2012 - 5:15 pm

via No Longer At Sea: Kate Bornstein Talks Scientology | (A)theologies | Religion Dispatches. The author of the memoir A Queer and Pleasant Danger discusses more than a decade inside L. Ron Hubbard’s cult:

You write that you realized the tone scale was a great way to recruit people.

I was temporarily assigned to the post of Director of Promotion. At the time, I didn’t have anything to promote, so I just read books by [Hubbard]—these were the only books I was really allowed to read.

The man was obsessive about details, so he detailed this numeric tone scale, and I studied that. Lord knows where he got the numbers from, but 1.0 on the tone scale is fear, 1.1 is covert hostility, which is the tone level of all Suppressive Persons. 1.5 is anger.

He said all you have to do to bring someone “uptone”—or put them in a better mood—was to speak half a tone to a full tone above the other person. Any higher, they won’t listen to you. Any lower, they’ll be really bummed out. And I thought, “We can use that in advertising.”

But then you say that Hubbard co-opted your idea in ways that became abusive.

Well, he twisted it to use with staff whose statistics—or production—were low. If a person’s statistics are going down, they’re at “fear” or “apathy” on the tone scale. The only thing you can do at that point is holler at them, and that will bring them up tone. [Hubbard] mostly used it to argue that it was okay to yell at people who were not producing. He made screaming at people a canonical order. You wouldn’t coddle people; you’d scream at them. That kind of management doesn’t help anyone.

What are statistics?

Everybody in Scientology, including non-staff members, has a statistic. Everybody is expected to produce a “Valuable Final Product” or service that helps forward Scientology’s goal of taking over the planet—they really do want to take over the planet.

So, for example, if your job is sales, how much money did you make? If your job is course supervisor, how many students did you graduate? If you’re not a staff member, the statistic is based on how many new people you brought into the Church in any given week.

What’s the plan after they gain control of the world?

Oh, they’ll move on to the next planet. That’s the reason for the billion-year staff contract.

How do you think the Church has changed in the decades since you left?

When I first thought about writing the book, I thought I was dealing with the same Scientology I remembered, but I’ve since realized that it has changed. It’s becoming a real religion, and that’s spooky! We never thought of it as a religion back then! We would call it a Church, but we would “wink” because we were fighting to get tax-exempt status. But I know that Scientologists today believe that it’s a Church—a religion—and it is becoming one.

It has also become increasingly doctrinaire. If something went wrong while Hubbard was alive, he would just say, “You know, this didn’t work, let’s try something else.” But now that he’s gone, you really can’t fuck with anything he said.

Their notions about marriage, sex, family, and children—lumped together and called the Second Dynamic—have changed. Now, if you want to have a baby in the Sea Org, you’re reportedly told to get an abortion. It wasn’t that way before. We wanted a baby, so we had to leave the ship. That made sense—we didn’t want a little baby tottering around on a ship where she could fall overboard.

Related at PJ Lifestyle: Ayn Rand in Bed with L. Ron Hubbard?

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